Depending on who you talk to, Airbnb is either the greatest thing since there was no room at the inn or it’s a way to help destroy the Bay Area’s already tight rental market.
In case you aren’t familiar with Airbnb, it’s sort of like an eBay for short-term rentals, only without the bidding. Homeowners, or in many cases leaseholders, rent out either a room or the entire place for a nightly, weekly or monthly rate – presumably while they’re on jaunts of their own.
Since it’s relatively new to the market, there have been few regulations. Many landlords prohibit subletting and I assume that some leases are specifically mentioning that that applies to short-term rentals as well. But in cities like San Francisco, where the housing market is very tight for people who live here long-term, until recently, people have been hoarding properties and renting them out at higher short-term rates, rather than settle for lease prices.
In October of last year, San Francisco passed some regulations for the short-term rental market, including setting a maximum of 90 days a year for any given property and paying hotel taxes. Here is more information on the law.
If you still want to try it out, Airbnb might be a great way to help pay for your own vacation or a way to help finance your own living space without the commitment of a roommate.
Like eBay, Airbnb offers star ratings for both renters rentals. The more quality reviews, the better. That can be a bit of a sticky wicket at times. Even while you are on vacation, being disruptive or making too much noise can result in bad reviews. If you plan on really partying, you might want to stick with a hotel. Unfortunately, complaints can also ring up bad reviews, so if you clog the toilet while renting, it’s a good idea to fix it yourself.
On the other side, most is pretty obvious. Keep your place immaculate. Invest in coordinating linens. Paint the walls. Make sure everything works perfectly. Your goal in the beginning is to rack up good reviews, which might mean cutting your price and adding extra touches like gift cards to local restaurants, a box of chocolates or a bottle of California wine.
Give your guests a binder full of restaurant menus, public transportation information, local sights and activities. You also want to list any peculiarities your home may have, such as a door that needs to be lifted before opening.
Neighbors may not like the idea of strangers staying next door. You can do one of two things; you can either pretend they’re your friends or you can talk to your neighbors, telling them that you only rent to top-rated renters. I recommend the second.
While location is everything, there are many renters who want the San Francisco experience without paying San Francisco prices. If you are on the BART line or within easy commuting distance to the city, you can still generate good prices. Wine country is another huge draw, as is Silicon Valley, especially for business travelers.
There are no guarantees, though. I just plugged in my address and the monthly net was less than we pay every month. Regardless, check them out. It could be worth it for you.